Skip to main content

Full text of "Methodism : a sermon"

See other formats




:r,:e-v- b. o:r,.a."V":e]:lt 7 id d. 

President of Trinity College, 





The following sermon was prepared for the Greensboro' District Conference, and 
was preached at Leaksville, June 23d, 186*7, and its publication was generally de- 

It was again preached at the Hillsboro' District Conference, and was unanimously 
asked for publication by the Quarterly Conference of Hillsboro' Station. Mean- 
while, Dr. Craven was earnestly solicited to preach it at the approaching Annual Con- 
ference in Wilmington, which he did in the presence of most of the members of the 
Conference, and the Conference passed a resolution unanimously requesting its pub- 

The undersigned, a Committee of the Hillsboro' Quarterly Conference, now have 
the pleasure of presenting this discourse to the Church and the public generally. 

We think that it will do good, that it is a voice that will find an echo in many 
hearts, and that it will be the means of stirring the Church up to a higher and 
holier life. 


0. HOOKER, J. Committee. 

Hillsbobo', N. 0., June 8th, 1868. 


Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the 
saints, and of the household of God. 

And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ him- 
self being the chief covner-sto7ie : 

In whom all the building, fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the 
Lord : 

In whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. 
— Eph. II : 19, 20, 21, 22. 

"A Church of God" is a congregation of believers, who have been called by the 
saving vocation of God from the state of corruption to the dignity of the sons of 
God through the Gospel, and are by faith engrafted into Christ, as living members 
aie to the head to the praise of the glorious grace of God. — Arminius Bisjpt. 18. 

A Church is a society of Christians meeting together in one place, under their pro- 
per pastors, for the performance of religious worship, and the exercising of Christian 
discipline. — Lord King, No. 1, Sec. 6. 

"A Church as now we are to understand it, is a society ; that is, a number of 
men belonging unto some Christian fellowship, the place and limits whereof are cer- 
tain. That wherein they have communion, is the public exercise of such duties as 
those mentioned in the Apostles' Acts, viz : ' instruction, breaking of bread, and 
praver.' " — Hooker, Book 3, Ch. 1. 

I shall attempt no discussion of legitimacy or orthodoxy ; 
such considerations are not embraced in my present design. 

I assume that the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, is in 
origin, doctrine and discipline, a true Church of God, founded 
clearly and truly upon Christ, and as fully sustained by 
Apostolic and patristic authority as any other church ; and thafr 
other things being equal, the covenanted grace of God will be 
bestowed upon us as richly as upon any other people, and that 
the sacraments are divinely authorized and efficacious in our 

I do not think these assumptions incapable of proof, illiberal 
or egotistic, and I hope the time has passed when our church 
will either be annoyed by the affected superiority of others, or 

deem a defence necessary against ungenerous and partizan crit- 
icism. If Methodism is Scripturally wrong, it is the most 
stupendous and amazing error in Christian history ; if its foun- 
dation is not divine and its structures not holy, it either con- 
tradicts the New Testament or the common sense of the whole 
civilized world. The New Testament says : " Ye shall know 
them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs 
of thistles?" And if Methodism is a moral thorn-tree, it has, 
during every season, for a hundred years, been bearing pro- 
fusely what all men call genuine fruits. And nurtured upon 
this production, men and women have grown up into an un- 
earthly, beautiful life, have died happily in that faith, and, we 
think, have gone to heaven. Hence, we may say of the church 
as one of old said of Jesus : " He answered and said, Whether 
He be a sinner or no, I know not : one thing I know, that, 
whereas I was blind, now I see." ' 

I propose to discuss Methodism in its distinctive functions and 
special agency in evangelizing the world, ; and I desire to do this 
with all charitableness and Christian courtesy, not defaming or 
disparaging any other church, and not assuming that all truth 
and spirituality are now confined exclusively to our commu- 
nion. To form a clear and fair conception of Methodism as a 
distinct and unique development in and of the general church 
of Christ, we must take our elements from three distinct 
sources and combine them together : First. The progressive 
development of the general church ; Second. The political, 
moral and social condition of the first half of the eighteenth 
century; and Third. The motives, acts and results of Mr. 
Wesley and his co-laborers. These studies will not only fur- 
nish us all facts needful for the interpretation of principles, 
but will better enable us to see Christ in history, both civil 
and ecclesiastical, and will furnish the best data for correct in- 
ference in reference to any proposed expansion or reform. 

Our religion is wholly of divine origin ; none of its essential' 
parts are human ; but the church visible, which is its external 
organism and its body, is mostly man's work. The 'whole 
light and power of religion came not at one time ; star after 

star came forth upon the (lark sky of the ruined race, till after 
four thousand years of increase and preparation, the star of 
Bethlehem arose, announcing the sun that should never set. 
All these lights were and are harmonious ; they proclaimed 
advance, but neither confusion nor contradiction ; Calvary 
was the fulfilment of Moriah and Sinai, and the Gospel is a 
new, verified, enlarged and illuminated edition of the Old 
Testament. Not so, however, with the ritual and discipline of 
the visible church. Truth is eternal and unchangeable, but 
the modes and means of its manifestation are variable and 
temporal. Outward forms have been established by Divine 
authority, and have been repealed by the same ; they have 
differed greatly according to circumstance, time and people, 
and are at all times to be tested solely by their efficacy in 
promoting the great purposes of Revelation. There is no 
unity in the Church of God from Abraham to the present, if it 
is estimated by rites, ceremonies and symbols ; but the unity 
is unbroken and beautiful through all the ages, if we consider 
its living spirit moving steadily onward to the salvation of 
the world. The old Jewish Church was a dispensation of 
progress, as well as prophecy, through its whole history. 
The emphasis of teaching, providence and discipline, were 
thrown upon one point till it was developed ; then another was 
brought forward and wrought into life in the same way, each 
bringing an increasing prophetic light. The purely patri- 
archal times were the era of doctrine ; Moses inaugurated the 
period of discipline and symbolism, and David rose up to the 
spiritual conceptions and higher life dimly foreshadowed by 
the old church. A precisely similar development is manifest 
in the church since the crucifixion. During the first six hun- 
dred years after Christ, almost the whole effort of the church 
was directed to didactic theology, to obtain a correct belief 
among the people, to make them Christians in opinion and 
speculitive faith, and to conform the nations in dogma and 
polity to the teachings of the New Testament. Nothing could 
be done with the Jew till he admitted Christ to be the Mes- 
siah ; nor with the heathen, till he forsook his gods of wood 

and stone, and acknowledged the Lord Jehovah to be the only- 
true God. It was a conflict of truth against error ; the whole 
ground was fiercely contested ; and sometimes, when logic 
failed, more sanguinary arms were used against the Christian 
teacher. On one side were the bigotry, prejudice and heredi- 
tary pride of the Pharisee ; more than one hundred thousand 
pagan priests, presiding over thirty thousand temples ; the gor- 
geous pantheism of Asia, with its vast stores of transcendental 
philosophy ; the ancient Dualism of Egypt, with its myths and 
symbols ; the profound and brilliant philosophies of Greece ; 
the solemn superstition of the Gothic nations, and the facile 
utilitarianism of the Roman empire ; against all these was 
arrayed the doctrine of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. This 
truth must first be established, and it could only be done 
by the downfall of the others ; hence, it was a contest of ex- 
termination. Through all these centuries the great effort was 
to overcome error of belief, and to implant the true doctrine. 
The substance and mode of preaching, the forms of worship, the 
ceremonies of the sacraments and the discipline of the members, 
were all directed specifically to this end. At the commence- 
ment of the seventh century the conflict was chiefly over ; all 
the religions around the Mediterranean especially, had been 
met and vanquished on every field of argument ; all conceiva- 
ble heresies had been defeated by the profoundest logic, and 
the most masterly Biblical exigesis, and the whole country gen- 
erally acknowledged the truth of the Bible, from the Euphra- 
tes to Caledonia, and from the African desert to the Baltic Sea. 

This was the epoch of belief, a developement of Christianity 
in mind rather than heart, in orthodoxy rather than piety; and 
heresy was considered much more damning than the grossest 
immoralities. The first cycle of the Christian Church was 
complete, and all things were ready for activity and provi- 
dence upon some other issue. 

The Middle Ages constitute the second epoch, which commen- 
ced with the increasing power and splendor of the church in Rome 
This was the era of ecclesiasticism, Christian legalism and 
Church authority. Hitherto the Church at large bad con- 

trolled all things in the societies ; henceforth for a thousand 
years a central hierarchy became lord and master. Doctrine 
received very meagre attention, practical piety still less ; the 
grand effort was to build the visible church into a theologi- 
cal autocracy of temporal and spiritual power, absolutely con- 
trolling all the political, social, civil and religious. To this 
end, the intellect and finance of the world were taxed to build 
those august temples that are still the wonder of nations ; 
the ritual was enormously extended and made more sacred 
than the Apostles' Creed, and the test of good membership 
was in unqualified obedience to priestly dictation. By the six- 
teenth century, Church canons had become more potent than 
the Bible, and the Pope boldly claimed the mediatorial throne 
of Christ. Against these unparalleled usurpations, the Refor- 
mation rose in resistless strength, claiming personal responsi- 
bility to God for all persons, and Justification by Faith as 
cardinal doctrines of the Christian dispensation. The natural 
love of individual independence, and the inflexible character 
of the Teutonic race, permanently checked the sway of cleri- 
cal domination, and re-established most of the Church, north 
and west of the Alps, in the ancient orthodox, speculative 
faith ; but in' so doing, this immense portion of Christendom 
was severed from the communion and government of the 
Italian and eastern Churches. This vast membership was thus 
left to waste away for want of organization, or, guided by 
the general principles of the New Testament, to form such 
ecclesiastical jurisdictions and arrangements, as it thought 

Here is the basis and origin of all the Protestant Churches. 
One of them cannot be ecclesiastically more in a line of succes- 
sion from the Apostles, than another. All directly or indi- 
rectly and with equal distinctness, came away from Rome to- 
gether. By the fundamental principles of the Christian Reli- 
gion as interpreted by the Fathers and the Reformers, every 
man had a divine right to think for himself, and none could 
be accused of schism or heterodoxy, so long as he acted upon 
just principles, and maintained the great doctrines of redemp- 


tion. Hence various divisions or denominations arose upon 
differences of doctrinal interpretation, and upon diverse con- 
ceptions of Church polity ; but all were admitted to be equally 
of the Church general, and equally entitled to universal toler- 
ance and respect. No one thought, at that day, of excluding 
another from the covenanted mercies of God ; neither Luther, 
nor Calvin, nor Arminius, nor the prelates of Henr/ VIII., 
pretended anything more than greater truthfulness in the 
interpretation of doctrine, or greater wisdom in ecclesiastical 
organization. All not only admitted, but stoutly contended, 
that ritual forms and Church government were optionary and 
variable ; and it is only in very recent times that men have 
brought sorrow upon the Lord's people by making a mode 
essential to salvation, and a line of descent as important as the 
divinity of Christ. Those who harp so much upon preach- 
ing the whole Gospel as it is in Jesus, should remember that if 
Paul says : "I have not shunned to declare unto you all the 
counsel of God", St. John says: "If any man shall add 
unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that 
are written in this book": and whoever makes essential to 
membership in the Church of Christ, conditions not divinely 
authorized, is not only heretical ; " but in vain do they wor- 
ship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." 
—Matt. 15 : 9. 

But now the second epoch of the Church was coming to an 
end ; the idea of organization and discipline had been fully 
expanded and impressed upon the general thought of the age ; 
theology had become the literature of the times, and discipline 
was quite as dominant as civil or military law. From this 
era till the rise of Methodism, the different branches of the 
Church were adjusting the expression of their articles of faith, 
establishing their rituals, and giving their pulpit ministra- 
tions chiefly to speculative theology and morals. At the com- 
mencement of the eighteenth century, orthodox belief and 
strict formalism constituted the test of the genuine Christian. 
The two preceding epochs were combined and harmonized. 
The divine and the human were so well and so generally estab- 

lished, that they had generally ceased to be matters of con- 
troversy, and nearly the whole civilized world was Christian- 
ized in belief and general observance. For seventeen hundred 
years the Church had sustained whatever life she had, by her 
orthodoxy and morals ; during most of the time, hope of 
heaven had been based much more upon belief than practice, 
more upon correctness of intellect than soundness of heart. 
But now these phases of Christianity had completed their 
work, and could do no more ; the body was formed ready for 
God to breathe into it the spirit of life ; doctrine and organiza- 
tion could effect nothing further without the Holy Ghost to 
give them vitality. A new developement was organically and 
historically demanded, otherwise the whole human heart 
would surge back to infidelity, or waste itself in fanaticism. 
A rapid decline was commencing in all the Protestant na- 
tions, that threatened both Church and State with pollution, 
anarchy and ruin. The time had passed when orthodoxy could 
control the demon of scepticism, and when discipline could 
restrain the desires of unregenerate hearts. " The court of 
England was a royal brothel ; the play-house was the temple 
where the highest Church officers chiefly worshipped, and the 
most obscene drama was the favorite Gospel of that mad gener- 

Swift, Congreve and Dryden were robing sin in the garments 
of a Platonic piety, and were sinking the multitude to death 
eternal ; Hobbes, Tindal and Shaftsbury were assaulting all 
things sacred with immense popularity ; and Gibbon and Hume 
were insidiously defaming and belying the past records of the 
Church, upon the historic page. A few noble men of God 
manfully defended the truth, but were utterly disregarded by 
the scoffers, hypocrites and infidels in the high places of the 
State. All the good felt that something must be done, that 
some other power must be given or the Church could not 
stand ; that a prince must arise in Israel, or the house of 
Pavid would be destroyed. They saw and admitted that doc- 
trine and discipline, however perfect, could not control the 
popular heart, throbbing with the huge life-tides then in 


motion. Then it was, when the existing dispensation of pro- 
gress had wrought its work, and all considerate men saw the 
necessity of another, that God, by the instrumentality of 
men, inaugurated the third epoch of Gospel developement. 

This is the spiritual, the divine life in the soul, the living, 
vivifying incarnation of the Word of God. Hitherto the 
Church had been studying, learning and thinking, henceforth, 
she was to live and feel "the life that is bid with Christ in 
God." Religion was no longer to be simply belief, mental 
conviction and assent ; but upon orthodox belief was to be 
founded a present, personal appropriating faith that brings tbe 
whole Trinity into the soul, and creates a new and joyous life. 
The people of God were now to realize an experience but 
little known for sixteen hundred years, and in some respects 
richer than anything in the past ; the foreshadowings of Pen- 
tecost were to become daily realities, transforming the Church 
by the Holy Ghost, and coining from actual heart-life Charles 
Wesley's grand exultation : 

" glorious hope of perfect love ! 
It lifts me up to things above; 

It bears on eagle's wings ; 
It gives my ravished soul a taste, 
And makes me for some moments feast 
With Jesus, priests and kings." 

Methodism was and is tbe providentially appointed embodi- 
ment, the organism and the exponent of this third stage of de- 
velopement, this humanity born and made alive in the Gospel, 
this spiritualism of the general Church. 

In all history no other Church ever arose like the Methodist ; 
all others without exception have had a sectional, a theologi- 
cal or an ecclesiastical basis of difference given as the real or 
ostensible reason of fprmation ; but the only landmark known 
to the Methodist, was an " earnest desire to flee the wrath to 
come and to be saved from sin." Mr. Wesley and his co-la- 
borers arose within, not from the Episcopal Church chiefly, 
not to preach any new doctrine, not to propose ecclesiastical 
reform, not to found a sect ; but by the grace of God, to con- 
form men to the doctrines already taught, to regenerate the 


Church and to convert the world. With unimportant excep- 
tions, there was not even an attempt at theological or eccle- 
siastical controversy ; furious opposition was made to the zeal 
and exhortation, but very little to the theoretical doctrine ; 
whole congregations were troubled and smitten in soul by the 
burning power of the Word, and sometimes stoned the mes- 
senger, while they mentally approved the substance of the 
message. The object of these men was to spread scriptural 
holiness over the land ; their themes were Repentance, Faith, 
Justification, Regeneration, Sanctification, and the Witness of 
the Spirit ; every sermon abounded in vehement appeals in- 
stantly to accept the offered mercy of God and be saved from 
sin ; their temples were the regular churches, private- houses, 
the coal-pits of Newcastle or the suburbs of Bristol ; and their 
labors were freely given to all who would hear them. 

The Methodist is truly and scripturally a Church ; Method- 
ism really is the mode, intention, power and divine purpose, 
to be maintained and executed by the Methodist or any other 
Church, that will live and act, and be what God clearly de- 
signs His general Church to be in this the nineteenth century. 
If the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, is deficient in any 
essential particular, all other Protestant Churches are unmis- 
takeably in the same condition ; but it is a Church by the provi- 
dence of God, and not by the design of men ; it was a Church 
before any man intended that it should be so ; and its existence, 
plan and organization, are as clear creations of providence as 
the Church at Jerusalem or Ephesus. 

As a Church, ours. is not the exponent and special defender of 
any theological dogma or polity ; but it is the avowed and ad- 
mitted supporter and representative of the personal applica- 
tion and realization of all orthodox doctrine in the life and 
hope of mankind. We can demolish speculative error and 
defend true doctrine as successfully as others, but this generally 
is extraneous to our special mission, and is far from being our 
great, primary work ; God has called us to seek the present 
salvation of souls, practically to expound the great doctrines of 
the Gospel, and urge their immediate acceptance with zeal and 


power. But we shall understand Methodism as exhibited in our 
Church better, by noticing certain developements and results 
that arose with our Church, and are its peculiar and distinc- 
tive features, except, as in part or in whole, they have since 
been appropriated by other Churches. Nor is this appropria- 
tion wonderful in fact, nor derogatory to the appropriators, for 
the Methodist has confessedly done much to spiritualize all the 
other churclies, and has brought them very 'nearly as many 
members from the world of sinners, as they have procured 
for themselves. 


Instantaneous Conversion. I. Though this doctrine was not 
theologically or historically new, no one had previously taught 
it as did Mr. Wesley. In all the ages of the church after the 
Apostolic days, it had never before been preached as an imperious 
present necessity. It had not been apprehended that the fiery 
tongues of the law, the impassioned tones of prophecy, and the 
gentle eloquence of Jesus, all united in one soul-absorbing ap- 
peal to sinners to repent to-day. No one had taught them that 
they can begin now and command the means of salvation, that 
they may be converted to-day ; and that conversion may be, 
and generally is, instantaneous. This was the grand message 
of the first Methodist preachers, the result to which all their 
efforts were directed, the end to be gained by«every form and 
manner of sermon or service. Not only the open, notorious 
sinners of the time, but grave churchmen and professors of 
every communion, were astonished and offended to hear these 
new preachers thundering through the land, — 

" Repent, the voice celestial cries ; 
No longer dare delay ; 
The wretch that scorns the mandate, dies, 
And meets a fiery day." 

Nor was it less disagreeable to the great body of the nobility 
and gentry, and to the moralists, to hear it proclaimed to the 
poorest, meanest and most degraded.: 


" Come, all ye souls by sin oppressed, 
Ye restless wand'rers after rest, 
Ye poor, and maimed, and halt, and blind, 
In Christ a hearty welcome find." 

This present personal application of doctrine is essentially 
Methodistic ; it arose with us, and, by the blessing of God, 
has accomplished marvels in the history of life. It is to-day, 
and will continue to be, one of our cardinal points ; as long 
as we are true to it, we shall march with advancing civiliza- 
tion and growing empires ; when we neglect it, we shall have 
forsaken the mission to which God has called us, our heart 
will stand still and our church will die. We are fundamen- 
tally, and by the calling of God practically and constantly 
aggressive against sin ; and if there can be a difference, we 
are rather to persuade men to do what they know, than to teach 
them what they do not know. We can truly say with Paul 
and his co-laborers : " Now then we are ambassadors for 
Christ, as though God did beseech you by us : we pray you in 
Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." — 2 Cor. 5 : 20. 

When the Methodist Church ceases to have conversions at 
her altars, she will be recreant to the anointing of the Holy 
Ghost ; and when her ministers in Gospel simplicity no longer 
faithfully warn sinners, and invite them to the Lamb of God, 
they will lose the power that has morally revolutionized whole 
countries, and has moved both the city and the wilderness to 
wails of anguish and shouts of joy. The mourners' bench is, 
or ought to be, a part of every Methodist Church, and in- 
vitations to occupy it ought to be much more frequent than they 
are. The conversion of souls under our ministry, constitutes a 
part of the $ests of our divine call to the pulpit, and the same 
results ought to be required as an evidence of our continual 
fitness for the work. This is the work God has raised us up 
to do, and is both the strength and special glory of the Church. 
We hasten to perishing multitudes, to the weary and des- 
ponding, the poor and the afflicted, all these we warn with 
earnestness and tears, and offer them a present salvation. 
This work suits us and we suit the work, and in it we enjoy 
the love of God. When penitents are weeping and souls are 


converted, the church grows in strength and unutterable rich- 
ness ; as laymen " we rejoice with joy unspeakeable and full of 
glory," as preachers we feel the grandeur and power of the 
ministerial call. We never so appreciate the riches of redeem- 
ing grace, never do we come so near knowing "what is the 
breadth and length and depth and height of the love of Christ 
" in redemption ;" never do we stand so far within the borders 
of Canaan, and see so clearly the glory of the city of God, as 
when a great congregation is moved with pungent convictions 
and electrified by brilliant conversions. This is the special 
mission, the origin 'and the essential life-work of Methodism, 
and no one will ever understand and appreciate our church, 
or become greatly attached to it, or work successfully in it, 
who does not recognize that our great leading work is at once 
to bring sinners to Christ by genuine repentance and Gospel 
regeneration. This is the key-stone of our system, the central 
idea of this Christian developement. As a church of forms and 
ritual ceremonies, our church would be a poor, inefficient or- 
ganization. We offer very little that is attractive to mere 
morality or sentimental piety. We must have experimental 
religion, and when this glows with divine fervor in the hearts 
of the membership, no church was ever so attractive as ours. 
This leading principle, as above stated, developed in the 
mind of Mr. Wesley and his associates, three other distinctive 
characteristics of Methodism, all harmonious with each other, 
and clearly deducible from the Word of God. Hence, the next, 
the second, element of Methodism arose naturally and neces- 

2. The Use of the Emotional in Religious Exercises. — Prior 
to the time of Mr. Wesley, preaching had been almost exclu- 
sively addressed to the intellect ; the truths of the Gospel 
were supposed to need no human aid but a subtle and profound 
logic ; clear, cold conviction was deemed all that was necessary 
to establish the- kingdom of Christ ; but the Wesleys, Whit- 
field and others saw that the emotional was taught by Christ, 
that it was according to Apostolic usage, and that it was a 


means of tremendous potency for good. To show men their 
duty and their danger, is not sufficient ; they must be aroused 
to immediate action and snatched as brands from the burning. 
As the angel hurried and helped Lot away from Sodom, so 
must careless, perishing sinners be moved by every truthful 
means to escape the fiery storm of eternal death. The first 
thing that attracted public attention, was the popular speech 
and burning zeal of the Methodist movement ; the pathos of 
a rude, but resistless oratory was exciting crowds beyond all 
precedent ; death, hell and heaven, were drawn in lines of fire 
upon sinful souls ; Moorfields, Bristol and Kingswood were 
in unparalleled commotion ; London, Manchester, and New- 
castle were intensely excited, and a huge groan of agony 
rolled from the unwashed colliers of Cornwall to the cool 
Scot upon the banks of the Tweed. The preaching was simple 
in subject, plain in style, and without rhetorical finish ; but 
it was all aglow with overwhelming emotion, and was sent as a 
shower of Gospel-fire upon the heart. To save souls from a 
storm of wrath already thundering upon the horizon of life, was 
the single aim of all ; no means nor effort must be left untried ; 
whatever could make men feel and bring them within the 
movings of the Holy Ghost, must be used ; wherever the 
intrenchments of the soul were weakest, there the assault must 
be made. This was new in the church, unheard of by men of 
the world, and apparently alarming to the devil himself. The 
prince of darkness could manage prosy moral sermons, keen- 
edged logic and all the schools of philosophy, but he was 
fairly beaten when sinners quaked and trembled, and felt that 
" the pains of hell had taken hold upon them." Then arose 
a storm of contempt, ridicule, abuse and misrepresentation, 
followed by mobs, brickbats, and personal abuse even unto 
death ; but all in vain. The great popular heart had felt the 
fiery edge of the law, and had heard the thunderings of Sinai ; 
and the good sense of the nation saw that men and women came 
back from seasons of intense excitement, from the mourners' 
bench, from the cries of the penitent and the shouts of the 
converted, more useful and agreeable neighbors, and better 


citizens. This is the grand human agency in the armory of 
Methodism. All men expect Methodist people to use and show 
the emotional in religion, and we veritably believe that God 
requires it of us. A sentimental, affected refinement pretends 
to despise it, as derogatory to the Church and vulgar by the 
code of manners; but such pretence is founded upon miscon- 
ception, pedantry or something worse. Revivals, as we under- 
stand them, are ineffective, if not impossible, without emotion ; 
they arose with us, have been blessed of God unto salvation with 
us, and, God being our helper, they shall never cease until 
" the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our 
Lord and his Christ." There may be excess, sometimes hypo- 
critical pretence, and in many places a rudeness to be deplored; 
but slight abuse can never " disparage a means that has broken 
the hardest hearts, arrested the most depraved, and sent ruined 
prodigals home from the ends of the earth. 

Thousands of precious souls in the church militant, and a 
vast multitude now in glory, first heeded the Gospel call in an 
hour of intense excitement ; when the preacher, in the greatness 
of inspired passion, moved the congregation as with the finger 
of God, overthrew the barriers of opposing human reason and 
won souls to Jesus through the power of the affections ; or it 
may have been at an hour, when one from a group of respect- 
able unconverted citizens has arisen in the great congregation, 
and with streaming tears, has pressed to the altar ; or when a 
child has been converted with a splendor that thrilled souls 
with overwhelming power. At such times the stubbornness 
of nature gives way; the spirit yields to fear, or remorse, or 
desire, when it would scorn all argument ; and pride succumbs 
to feeling when it would resist all the logic in the universe. 
You have seen the gray-headed sinner for whom a generation 
of the good have wept and prayed in vain ; unmoved he 
has heard Olin aod Bascom, Moses and all the prophets ; but 
at the protracted meeting his little grand-daughter, the darling 
and pet of his old age, was brilliantly converted ; no sooner 
had the sweet child arisen, all radiant with glory, than hasten- 
ing through the congregation, she lays her hand electric 
with divine love upon that prayerless gray-head, and talks to 

him in the rich dialect of a new-born soul. That head falls 
lower and still lower, and soon the old man kneels before the 
Lord his God, and at evening time they return home, holding- 
sweet counsel and praising the Lord together. 

It is through the emotional that instruction bears fruit, that 
argument becomes practically effective, and that conviction 
leads on to conversion; along every golden chain that con- 
nects the heart with earth and man and heaven, the Holy Ghost 
flashes light and power, and other things being equal, the 
effectiveness of the Gospel is in direct ratio with the intensity 
of the emotional. 

Would to God that the whole country was intensely excited 
in reference to religion, that every sermon would make the 
hearts of sinners quake, and thrill all the children of God ; 
and that in every congregation could be heard cries and songs, 
and mighty shoutings. In the use of this means, we live and 
move and .have our being ; without it, neither learning nor 
legislation nor wealth, can save us from ruin. Every thing 
truly Methodistic is tremendously in earnest. The camp-meet- 
ing is still needful in the country, and especially upon the 
borders of society ; protracted meetings should be vastly mul- 
tiplied and vitalized in all the churches, and every other 
proper means should be employed, that will make men feel as 
well as know their duties, their danger, and their privileges. 

Mr. Wesley, however, quickly perceived that zeal to save 
and great emotion are in themselves powerless, hence he 
learned, appreciated and used the third distinctive characteristic 
of Methodism. 

3. The Holy Spirit is given in proportion to prayer and 
faith.— All the Protestant churches taught at and before Wes- 
ley's day, that the Spirit accompanies the Word, and that by 
Him are wrought all spiritual changes in the heart, but that He 
would be manifested without limit, in answer to prayer and 
faith, to convict, to convert, and to bless, was not only a new 
Biblical interpretation, but was so repugnant to the lifeless 
formalism of the age, as to be scorned as a mad enthusiasm, 


and most bitterly hated as a dangerous innovation. Np spe- 
cialty of Methodism has been so generally opposed, or so 
sneeringly contemned, and yet it is as clearly taught in the 
Bible as that Jesus Christ died for sinners. This is the divine 
power and fire, working with and through the two preceding 
functions, and making them able to pull down the strong- 
holds of the devil. It is not our theology, or zeal, or organi- 
zation, or itinerancy, that has been the effective force to keep 
us up with the success of nations, and to give us the mastery 
over all the activities of modern life ; but mighty men of God, 
asking and receiving the Holy Ghost in large measure, have 
preached the word in power, and have produced effects that 
were a stumbling-block to formalists and foolishness to worldly 
wisdom. This heavenly unction, this anointing of the Holy 
Ghost, this clothing of words, gestures and tones with the eter- 
nal spirit, was first developed in the modern pulpit by Mr. 
Wesley, and is infinitely more convincing than all argument, 
and higher and nobler than all oratory. It is this which has 
made our uneducated, inexperienced preachers, such invincible 
sons of thunder ; it is this that has made our exhortation, now 
sadly neglected, such a blessing to the church and to the world. 
Whoever has been in a great Methodist congregation upon a 
day, when the Holy Ghost gave great power and efficiency to 
all the service, and richly dwelt in the hearts of the people, 
will never forget it ; even down to old age, he will remember 
that he has stood upon Mt. Pisgah, and felt breezes from the 
better-land. There is nothing sublimer this side of heaven, 
than the effects of prayer and faith upon a congregation ; it 
was astonishing to England at first, and is a marvel yet even 
to some evangelical Churches. These great displays of divine 
power were perhaps more sought, and more common, but not 
more needed in other days than at present ; we are most un- 
wisely relying more upon talent and culture, plans and visiting, 
and less upon the Holy Ghost. However beautiful and useful 
these agencies may be as auxiliaries, none of them can substi- 
tute the living Spirit of God in the Methodist Church. We 
have sometimes seen these works of the Spirit as clearly as 


objects of sense. Sometimes, when the sermon and the exhor- 
tation have failed to bring weeping penitents to the altar, the 
congregation has risen in the silent grandeur of faith, and soon 
the hardest hearts by scores were melted before the Lord ; or 
when praying penitents have failed to be converted, and fathers 
and mothers were weeping over their children, the Church in 
deep humiliation has prayed as one man, and not long after- 
wards, shouts and hosannahs were heard as the sounds of 
many waters ; or when the spiritual heavens have long been 
as brass, and every soul was famishing, then in answer to fer- 
vent prayer, the Lord has suddenly come to his temple, and 
all have been filled with glory and with God. 
Then all could feel and sing, — 

'•' The men of grace have found 
Glory begun below ; 
Celestial fruit on earthly ground 
From faith and hope may grow." 

Whatever may be the experience of individuals and of 
Churches, this manifestation of the Spirit in answer to prayer 
is thoroughly Methodistic, and without it we are as sounding 
brass and as tinkling cymbals. 

This same Gospel function has been emphasized and devel- 
oped by Methodism, in another particular closely allied to the 
above, viz : that when we are converted we may know our ac- 
ceptance with God. The old interpretation was, that the Bible 
describes a Christian, we by consciousness and observation 
know that we accord with the description ; therefore and thus, 
we know we are Christians. But Methodism takes a stand- 
point higher, clearer and vastly more satisfactory, viz : that the 
Holy Ghost bears witness or gives evidence directly to our souls 
that we are the children of God ; that our spirit by conscious- 
ness testifies to the reality of this witness of the spirit and to 
our new condition ; and that by observation we verify these 
inward testimonies by the fruits of the spirit ; and further- 
more, that in this condition in answer to prayer and faith, the 
love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, and that thus we not 
only have promise and hope, but present personal joy, indescri- 


bablc and lull of glory- This, in Mr. Wesley's day, was be- 
lieved by none but the Moravians, and by all others was most 
furiously and scoffingly opposed. The Moravians had neither 
comprehended nor enjoyed religion in such fulness and power 
as did the Methodists ; this laughing, crying, shouting and 
praising God was a new bloom upon the Gospel tree, and, with 
all its heavenly hues and divine fragrance, is the jest and 
sarcasm of nearly all who oppose us. This is peculiarly 
Methodistic, and our earnest prayer is, that it may rapidly 
grow in extent and power ; that those among us who never 
praised God, may soon begin ; that in winter and summer, in 
youth and in age, — 

' ' We may tell to all around 
What a dear Saviour we have found." 

This is the strength of the Church in extending the kingdom 
of God, and nurturing souls for heaven. 

0, that God would powerfully revive religion in all the 
Churches ; that mere morality, formality and lake warm ness, 
may be quickened and kindled into a blaze of holy fire, and 
that Methodism in her fulness of spiritual life m"ay everywhere 
be heard singing and shouting on her journey home. 

4. The fourth and last distinctive function of Methodism, is 
the substance and mode of singing. 

In this department, Mr. Wesley produced a developement as 
remarkable as it has been influential. Hundreds of new hymns 
have been written, so excellent in taste, and so well adapted 
to divine worship, that they have taken a permanent place in 
the hymnology of the general Church ; and while the tunes 
composed and selected are eminently characteristic of our 
peculiar life, they are generally, favorites with all those who 
enjoy religion. So far, there was simply improvement ; but our 
revival songs and tunes were absolutely new. Nothing like them 
had been known to the Church or the world ; and while culti- 
vated performers despised the simplicity and rude execution, 
they were charmed by the aptness of words and the sweetness 
of melody 


In an artistic sense, Methodist music has perhaps always 
held a second or a third-rate position ; but in moving, rousing 
spiritual power, it has never had an equal. With the unlet- 
tered circuit-rider, the pioneer missionary, and on the cotton 
plantations of the South, the singing has often been the best 
part of the preaching. When twenty thousand Cornwall 
miners sang with thrilling religious excitement, an English 
nobleman declared that he had then heard the Gospel for the 
first time ; and an American statesman could not decide whether 
it was better to hear Bascom preach, or to hear a Kentucky 
congregation sing the Old Ship of Zion. These old hymns 
and tunes are not only sacred by association and age, but are 
intrinsically suited both to promote religion in its third stage 
of development, and to express it. They are not mere poetic 
impulse of thought and fancy ; they are experience spoken by 
one soul to another ; spiritual life eloquent in its own essential 
dialect ; salvation sung by its own living harp. Our grand 
old choruses were born in revival power, ordained unto per- 
petual life for the comfort of the Lord's own precious children, 
and tuned with emotion that springs from the deepest currents 
of immortality. 

All over England and America, our revival singing has 
achieved glorious results ; it is a rythmical, impassioned di- 
vinity that nurtures the souls of believers, helps penitents on 
their way to the cross, and touches the hearts of the hardest 

' ' Those precious songs to memory dear, 
The sweetest balm to mortals given ; 
They drive away all doubt and fear, 
And ofttimes lift the soul to heaven." 

Let us improve our singing to the utmost degree of excel- 
lence ; let our congregational singing be inferior to none upon 
earth, let Methodist people touch the piano, the guitar and the 
harp, with the best skill and the finest taste ; but let all our 
precious old hymns and tunes live forever. They helped us in 
the days of our penitence, and did our souls good when we 
were converted ; so will they help and bless our children 


through all the ages yet to be. The whole world ought to 
thank God for Methodism, for teaching it to sing all the emo- 
tions of the soul, for setting religion to music and giving 
expression to the richest treasures of the heart. 

Every form of life has its speech articulate or inarticulate, 
each epoch of religious developement has had its singing ex- 
pressive of its character and intent, and revival singing having 
arisen with the developement of spirituality, must be con- 
tinued wherever and as long as this spirit animates the Church. 
Let us then sing our old songs to all the peoples of this age, 
let our choruses be rolled as spiritual thunder round all the 
circuits and stations, and let the Church on earth continually 
respond to the great multitude of the redeemed in glory, saying 

"Alleluia, the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth." 

Such is the Methodist Church in its distinctive functions ; in 
four fundamental points of interpretation and action, it differs 
from all other Churches of Christ. This difference is not one 
of opposition, but of developement, purpose and realization. 
Methodism has and represents in general all that the other 
Churches did when it arose ; but it has and represents what 
they did not ; it goes beyond them ; it was absolutely new in 
its outward appearance, and represented a new spirit of life 
and new fruits. The other Churches represented the Gospel 
in the intellect and in the civil and social relations of life ; 
Methodism represents all this, and in addition thereto, is the 
cultivation and exponent of the Gospel in the heart. It is 
as clearly a new growth and a divinely authorized and directed 
developement of all that existed at the beginning of the 
eighteenth century, as Pentecost was to the Sermon on the 

The Mediaeval Churches, embracing the Catholic, the Epis- 
copal and some others, were full of outward forms representa- 
tive of an inner work of grace upon the heart ; Methodism is 
the exemplification and fulfilment of those forms. Those 
Churches were symbolic and prophetic of Methodism, but now 
the symbol is realized and the prophecy fulfilled, and hence 


such forms are not only out of date and useless, but do to some 
extent deny the manifest work of God, and are related to Meth- 
odism partially at least, as the Jewish synagogue is to the 
Christian Church. Hence all pretence of ruling us out of the 
covenanted grace of God, because of succession or any other 
theological dogma, is not only unwarranted by the Word of 
God, but is historically absurd. We are a prophetic develope- 
ment and new growth of the whole Church of Christ upon 
earth ; and not by forms and beliefs, but in living reality, 
founded upon " the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ being 
the chief corner-stone." 

Methodism, then, is not properly the name of a sect or denom- 
ination in the usual sense, but of a growth of the Gospel, of 
the religion of Christ in its present stage of developement. It 
is not characterized by new doctrines or fixed forms, but by 
revivalism and spiritualism. It is pre-eminently aggressive 
against all the works of the devil. Its great mission is to 
instruct and persuade all sinners to seek religion to-day, as- 
suring them that they may be converted, and may be assured 
of their acceptance with God. To promote this end, the emo- 
tional is used in all its modes and to the utmost of its power ; 
as long as the intellect alone was to be affected, as in all time 
prior to the eighteenth century, instruction and argument were 
quite sufficient, but now as religion is to go into the heart the 
seat of the affections, the emotional must be added to the means 
formerly used. But the power to use the means and to do the 
work, is the Holy Ghost, and Methodism is the belief that this 
will be given to an unlimited extent, and in proportion to prayer 
and faith. And as an agency and aid in all this, a new kind 
of singing was born with this second coming of the Holy Ghost. 
As to organization and discipline, we have added to the old 
only so much as was necessary to carry out the new spirit of 
life within us. 

Nothing was previously planned ; providence clearly pointed 
out every thing before it was adopted by Mr. Wesley, and all 
of permanent utility that has since been taken, was indicated 
in the same way. Organization did not make the life of 


Methodism, but the life made the organization. Itinerancy, 
the Episcopacy, Presiding Elders, and the Class Meeting, all 
came forth in their season as naturally and as harmoniously 
as leaves, and flowers, and fruit, upon the trees of summer. 
As the church advances to maturity, doubtless some changes 
of discipline will be necessary ; but their necessity must be seen 
and judged from the same standpoint from which the church 
was organized at first. It is useless to tell us what other 
churches have or do ; they are not as we are, their life is not as 
ours, they do not propose what we do. Whoever legislates for 
our church, must mentally and spiritually comprehend the 
life and soul and God-given design of Methodism, and must 
himself be full of the Holy Ghost. Sinners and mere moralists 
know not what manner of persons we are, and their honest 
opinions may be exceedingly unwise and harmful. In whatever 
forms the Word of God has free course, runs, and is glorified 
in the salvation of sinners ; there may we go ; however much 
they may jar against the world and be criticised by unsanctified 
wisdom. The terms of our membership are accordant with 
our spirit and origin. As our church is representative of the 
religion of the heart, our terms of membership are of the same 
character. A church whose religion is founded in opinion, 
ought to base its terms of admission upon theoretical faith, 
creeds and orthodoxy ; but when the type of the church changes, 
so should the terms. We are ready to receive all who " desire 
to flee the wrath to come, and to be saved from their sins,'-' 
who believe in the great doctrines of redemption, and who are 
willing to be governed by our form of discipline. This rises 
above all polemical theology, and like the Saviour/seeks to save 
all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and desire a present 

We are broad and liberal as the Gospel, and yet all who 
enter must come in through the only door by which any man 
can be saved. Hence Methodism is originally, fundamentally 
and organically, unsectarian. If there are walls of separation 
between us and other churches, they are not of our building ; 
if the whole Christian world is not united, we are not to blame. 


For one hundred years we have held out our hands all the day 
long, and asked to join in fellowship with all, of every name 

fthlt"h W ht l0Veth t L0rd - - We t6aCh What « *K 
be the tiuth, but we make no particular construction a test of 

er° W P H and ^ n ° "" UP ° n "* ma " « « what 

% «. 2 ?r, e our own m f es - but a ° not coad ™» th °^ * 

others we freely open our churches to all denominations, and 
cordially xnvUe them all to our table of communion, and are 
truly sorry that some of them will not come. We should be truly 
glad to see all differences removed, all occasions of discord ob- 
literated, and all disturbances of brotherhood abolished ; and 
.0 all churches and peoples we offer, universal amity and Chris- 
tian union 

Then let us ever bear 

The blessed end in view, 
And join with mutual care 
To fi»ht our passage through, 
And kindly help each other on, 
Till all receive the starry crown. 

With the love of God in our own hearts, and an earnest 
desire for the salvation of all men, we say : 

"Ho ! every one that thirsts, draw nigh ; 
'Tis God invites the fallen race : 
Mercy and free salvation buy • 

Buy wine, and milk, and gospel grace. 

Gome to the living waters, come ! 

Sinners, obey your Maker's call : 
Return, ye weary wand'rers, home, 

And find my grace is free for all. 

See from the rock a fountain rise ; 

For you in healing streams it rolls ; 
Money^ye need not bring, nor price, 

Ye lab'ring, burdened, sin-sick souls. 

Nothing ye in exchange shall give, 

Leave all you have, and are behind : 
Frankly the gift of God receive, 

Pardon and peace in Jesus find." 

And now " Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our 
sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests 
unto God and his Father ; to Him be glory and dominion for 
ever and ever Amen."